March 18, 2018

Manliness Personified; Joseph of Nazareth: The Saint Who Saved the Savior (Feast Day, March 19)

Joseph & Mary going to Bethlehem

By Larry Peterson

So little is known about Joseph of Nazareth. There is not even one word he ever said that was recorded.  But his quiet life resonated as if huge cymbals were being smashed together, their vibrating sounds marching over the ages of history and into the center of our 21st-century existence. For it was Joseph of Nazareth who saved the Son of God so He could live to save us all. I call Joseph, the "Savior Saint."

Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth, was obviously humble and egoless and gave of himself. He was a real MAN.  And it was this man, this quiet, savior saint who single-handedly saved the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ when He was still an infant. Imagine if he had not been available to protect his wife and child.

As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph had to deal with. As Mary’s betrothed, he quietly accepted her pregnancy at a time when the scandal of such a thing oftentimes meant execution for the woman. When Mary was almost full term, he was forced to put her on the back of a donkey and take her 80 miles over rocky, dirt roads to Bethlehem for the census; a journey that would have probably taken three to five days. (I would have been sick to my stomach praying we could make it).

Then, upon arrival, his wife, Mary, goes into labor. There were no ERs, no cell phones, no 911 calls, and no paramedics. You are a stranger in town and do not know anyone. Unable to find shelter, you realize you on your own. Being a man, you try to appear calm and cool, but your insides are knotted in fear.

He was probably trembling and telling his wife, “Stay calm sweetie, it will be all right. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.”  He is forced to bring her to a dirty, smelly stable that is an animal shelter. Here she has to give birth to her child who is the Son of God. As a man, Joseph must have felt so inadequate, so un-manly. His heart must have been breaking.

The miracle of the Virgin Birth takes place, and mother and child are fine. But then Joseph discovers that King Herod wants to kill his baby boy. Okay guys, think about it. You have made it this far, and now you learn the army has been ordered to find your child and kill him.

The soldiers, unflinchingly following orders, are out in force searching for YOU and YOUR family. They are killing all boys two years old and under so as not to miss killing your son. But it is you and your wife and child they want.

Those other children are ‘collateral damage,’ an after-thought to Herod’s vicious orders. The fear and anxiety within Joseph must have been overwhelming, yet he did his best to remain upbeat.
Somehow, someway, with his resolve of faith and trust in God propelling him forward, he made it to Egypt and saved his family.

I have no idea how he managed to do it. Egypt was three hundred miles away, but he got them there safe and sound. He saved not only the Redeemer and probably the Blessed Mother from death, but he also made it possible for all of us to be saved too.

One final thought about this incredible person; Joseph of Nazareth was the only man who ever lived who could point to the Son of God and say, "That's MY boy." And that Boy would look up at him and call him, “Daddy.”  Imagine that.

St. Joseph, thank you and please pray for all of us. HAPPY FEAST DAY

                       Copyright Larry Peterson 2018

March 16, 2018

The 19 Martyrs of Algeria---including The Monks (Seven Trappists) of Tibhirine


Seven Martyrs of Tibhirine (Part of the 19 Algerian Martyrs from 1994 thru 1996 

By Larry Peterson

The bloody Algerian Civil War erupted in 1993 and among the victims of this persecution were 19 monks and nuns. They were assassinated between 1994 and 1996. The “positio” (the report documenting all information about the cause for beatification) has been completed, and the elevation of these courageous, selfless, Catholics into the ranks the Beatified, should happen by the end of January, 2018.

Among the 19 murdered was a group of seven, known as the Monks of Tibhirine. These men were members of the Cistercian Order  (aka Trappists). On March 27, 1996, these holy men were kidnapped from their home at Tibhirine, taken away and executed. They died “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith) as did the other twelve martyrs. What follows is a short peek into the life of one of these people. His name was Christian de Cherge, and he was the priest representing the others in the fruitless negotiations with the terrorists.

Christian was born in Colmar, France, on January 17, 1937. Christian's dad was a military man, and the boy spent part of his youth in French Algeria where his dad was the commander of the 67th Artillery Regiment of Africa. Upon the families return to France, they settled in Paris.

 Christian was enrolled in a school run by the Society of Mary, better known as the Marists (these men were my teachers when I was in high school and, trust me, they were “all business”). Christian de Cherge did have a secret; by the time he was eight-years-old, he knew he was called to the religious life. He said nothing, but as time passed by, he would be undeterred from that calling.

One event had a profound impact on the life of Christian de Cherge. In 1959, during the Algerian War, a Muslim by the name of Mohamed, selflessly saved Christian's life during an attack. Christian did not know how to thank the man so he told him he would pray for him. Mohammad responded telling Christian “not to bother because Christians do not know how to pray.”

The next day Mohammed was found brutally murdered. Christian never forgot how this Muslim man, knowing the consequences of saving a Christian, did so anyway. Later in his life Christian said, “: "In the blood of this friend, I knew that my calling to follow Christ meant to live, sooner or later, in the country where it was given to me the greatest gift of love."

Christian de Cherge went on to study the Arab language and Arab culture at the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in Rome. He finished studying there in  1974 and in 1984 became the Prior of the Abbey at Tibhirine.

Approximately 1 a.m on March 26, 1996, masked terrorists belonging to the AIG (Armed Islamic Group) surrounded the monastery at Tibhirine. Father Christian, knowing that his life and those of his compatriots were now perched on a tenuous rim, walked stoically out to the blood-thirsty, Jesus haters. He stood in front of the armed and masked gunmen and said, “This is a house of peace. No one has ever come in here carrying weapons. If  you want to come in and talk to us, you must leave your weapons here.”

It was a very brave move, but the frightened priest did his best to look calm and collected. The invaders demanded that the monastery support the rebels with money; that the Trappist doctor goes and tend to their wounded men; and that the monks should give them all the medicine they had.

Father Christian agreed to supply all that he could. Then he reminded the terrorists that it was Christmas Eve and a very important Holy Day for Christians. Amazingly, the leader of the terrorist group, Emir Syat-Attya, apologized. They agreed to leave but said they would be back.

Father Christian went back inside and gathered together all the supplies and medications that he could. The monks knew that they would no longer need them. He handed them over to the terrorists. He went back inside and the seven had their “Last Supper” together.

On March 27, the AIG returned and took the seven monks hostage. They were all beheaded on May 22, 1996. Father Christian left these parting words in letter form:
“If I were one day to become a victim of terrorism, I would like my community, my church, and my family to remember that my life was given to God and Algeria.”

This following link will connect to the 19Martys of Algeria . Each and every one of them was a true “lover” of Jesus Christ, so much so that they emptied their blood for Him.

We ask them all to pray for us so that we too, may have the courage to stand tall for our faith.

                                       copyright©Larry Peterson January, 2018

March 8, 2018

About Pro-Choice: Baby Turtles vs. Baby People—and the Winner is?


By Larry Peterson

Loggerhead Sea Turtle   wikipedia2common

In Florida, sand as white as snow curls up the Gulf Coast from Naples north to the panhandle area with some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. People come from all over the world to visit these beaches and bask in the brilliant Florida sun and fish and swim in the calm and clear Gulf waters. But there is one thing these folks and all folks had better not do while visiting these beaches. If they do not want to wind up in jail, they had better avoid the Loggerhead Sea Turtles. They are on the Endangered Species List and they nest on the beaches.

We have in place in this country a law called the Endangered Species Act. Under this act wildlife considered "endangered" are protected by law from being killed, maimed or harmed in any way. There are many good points to this law as some of our most revered wildlife, like the Bald Eagle, have been saved from possible extinction. But, what about the "Baby People"? Don't they count?

The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is one of these protected turtles. It can be found (like baby people) all over the world. However, its primary habitat is the Florida coast north to Virginia. It is estimated that these turtles build 67,000 nests a year along the beaches. The female lays her eggs in the sand and buries them. After two months they hatch, crawl to the sea and begin their lives. Of all the hatch-lings maybe 8000 baby turtles survive.  They will live close to 60 years.

It is illegal to harm, harass, or kill any sea turtles, their eggs, or hatchlings. It is also illegal to import, sell, or transport turtles or their products. It is perfectly legal to kill baby people who have not been born. In the United States, since Roe vs. Wade was passed in 1973, over 58,000,000 abortions have been performed. Fifty-eight million baby people have been vanquished from existence, many of them burned alive via the Saline Abortion method. That extrapolates out to 1,348,837 baby people a year killed in America.

In 2014 there were 3.93 million births in the United States. That means that approximately one out of every four pregnancies in our country results in a life extinguished. Sea turtles are given every chance to survive with the government going so far as to put people in prison who might interfere with their survival. On the other hand, baby people are welcomed into legalized and sweetly painted extermination camps and, unmercifully and without fanfare or emotion, eradicated.

Whatever are we doing? We civilized people have allowed a portion of our past to be destroyed. We are allowing our present to be vilified by what can only be called a great lie fabricated as the virtue of "helping" women. We have short-circuited the future of our children and grandchildren by taking away from them the possibility of another Rembrandt, or a Mozart or a Jonas Salk, or a Martin Luther King Jr., or even an Abraham Lincoln living among them.

There is a world wide abortion counter that ticks off the abortions around the world as they happen. Look for yourself. More than one life a second is being aborted. Genocide of the innocent, living in and out of the womb, is rampant on planet Earth. Whatever have we wrought?

As the great St. John Paul II said, “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”                     
                                 copyright©Larry Peterson 2017 

February 25, 2018

Christ had revealed the Treasures of His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. But it was St. Claude de la Colombiere who helped her reveal it to the world.

St. Claude de la Colombiere

By Larry Peterson

Claude de la Colombiere was born in 1641, in the old province of Dauphine, in France. He was the third child of Bertrand Colombiere and Margaret Coindat. Soon after Claude was born the family moved to the town of Vienne, and this is where the young boy began his education. It was during this time period that Claude began feeling the call to the Jesuits.

Claude began his secondary studies at the Jesuit school in Lyon. He was now seventeen and, wrote in his journal, that he had “a terrible aversion for the life embraced.” Later on, those who knew him, attributed those comments to his being away from home and missing his family who he was very close to. Plus, he loved the arts, literature and active social life. But the selfless side of Claude won out, and he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Avignon. Here he finished his studies in rhetoric and philosophy.

In 1666 he went to the College of Clermont in Paris to study theology. He took his first vows and completed his studies in philosophy. He became a professor of grammar and literature and stayed in that position for the next five years. Well known  for his tact, poise, and devotion to the humanities, his superiors appointed him the tutor for the children of France’s Minister of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert. Unknown to Claude, God had bigger plans for him.

Claude was now a priest and returned to Lyon. Here he taught in the college, became a full-time preacher, and also the moderator of several Marian congregations. After 15 years as a Jesuit, Father Colombiere began his probation in a Jesuit’s final spiritual formation. This is known as the Tertianship, and it would be the final pathway for the priest to his still unknown destiny.

Upon Father Colombiere’s profession of solemn vows, he was named rector of the College at Paray-le-Monial. Most people who knew of Father Colombiere wondered why such a talented priest would be sent to such an unknown and obscure place. The answer was well known to the superiors’ who sent him.
The reason was for him to see a simple, humble nun at the Monastery of the Visitation. Her name was Margaret Mary Alacoque. The reports were that she told her superiors that Jesus was appearing to her  and revealing the secrets of His most Sacred Heart.

Sister Margaret Mary was being spurned by the other sisters and ridiculed. She tormented over and was uncertain of what was actually happening. Jesus had told Sister Margaret that He would send her the “faithful servant and perfect friend.”  

Sister Margaret Mary had endured much because of the disbelief of the other nuns at the monastery. She felt isolated and alone even though she had been chosen by Christ Himself to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart. When  Father Colombiere arrived at the monastery and began hearing the confessions of all the nuns, Sister Mary Margaret knew the “faithful servant and perfect friend”  that Jesus had promised her had finally come.

She willingly confided in Father Colombiere and opened her heart to him. After speaking and meeting with her a number of times Father Colombiere was convinced of the truthfulness and the validity of her visions. He became her most ardent supporter and apostle for her and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Father Colombiere left Paray in 1676 and headed for London. He kept in touch with Sister Margaret Mary by letter. He had been assigned to be the preacher to the Duchess of York and later, to the Queen of Great Britain. He even took up residence in St. James Palace.

Colombiere’s belief and loyalty to his Catholic faith never wavered, even under the intense pressure against the Catholic faith in England. In 1678 he was accused and arrested as one of those involved in the fictional ‘popist plot’ designed to overthrow King Charles II. He spent over three weeks in squalid prison conditions weakening his frail health to the point of ‘no-return”.

After his release, in 1679, he was sent back to Paray.  Father Colombiere died on February 15, 1682, from severe hemorrhage. He was 41 years-old.

Jesus had appeared to St. Margaret Mary revealing His wishes for devotion to His Sacred Heart. But it was St. Colombiere who helped the quiet, humble visionary announce it to the world. Father Claude de la Colombiere was canonized a saint on May 31, 1992, by Pope St. John Paul II.

St. Colombiere, please pray for us. His feast day is February 15.

                                   Copyright©Larry Peterson 2018 All Rights Reserved

February 13, 2018

For Valentine' Day--A Love Story Embraced by The Love of God


By Larry Peterson
The following is a true story. It was posted a few years ago. It is a love story:

     It was the spring of 2014. Ed and Cathy Carmello (not their real last name) had only been my neighbors for a short time, less than a year I think.   They had met when Ed was 60 and Cathy was 40. They fell in love and, never having been married, happily “tied the knot.”  They had just celebrated their silver wedding anniversary and were simply enjoying retired life together.

There was a problem. Ed’s prostate cancer had returned with a vengeance and was destroying him quickly. Cathy was in her final battle with  Stage IV melanoma. Since I was a prostate cancer survivor and my first wife had died of melanoma, I was able to discuss their cancers openly with them. They knew I understood.

It was a Thursday afternoon around 4 .p.m. when I left to take my daily walk. I headed down the street, and there was Cathy standing on her front lawn supported by her walker.  I could see she was fighting to hold herself up. A bit anxious, I hurried over and said, “Hey, Cathy, what’s going on? Is everything all right?”

“I was waiting for you, Larry.  I need to talk to you.”

I was dumbfounded. “Are you kidding me? I never walk at this time of day, and you say you were waiting for me?”

“I just knew you were coming by.  I can’t explain it.”

A bit unnerved, I leaned against her SUV as she leaned heavily on her walker. “You know Ed is dying, right?”

“Yeah, Cathy, I know.  We talked about it.  He’s an amazing guy. What about your prognosis? Any change?”

She smiled and looked me right in the eye saying, “They told me I only have a few weeks left.”
I tightened my lips, took a breath, and asked, “What can I do?”

They knew that I was Catholic and an EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion).  Cathy asked me if I could bring a priest over. She told me that they had been non-practicing Catholics and had not been to church in years. It was time for them to “make things right with God.”  I said, “I will put a call into Father as soon as I get back to the house.”

“Thank you so much.  That is why I was out here waiting for you.”

I simply nodded. She smiled and thanked me and I walked her back to the house. She did not mention herself once, only her husband.  She told me how she wished she could ease his suffering and how wonderful it might be if they could go for a bicycle ride just one more time.  Then she mentioned how she thanked God for every moment they had had together.

We went inside and she, Ed, and I hung out for about ten minutes just chatting.  Cathy excused herself and slowly walked back to the bedroom.  Ed quickly told me how he wished he could ease her suffering and how God had been so good to him allowing him to find such a great woman to share his life with.  I took in a deep breath. (You know, when God is present sometimes it is hard to breathe).

I called our newly ordained priest, Father Scott. He came over the next day and spent about an hour with Ed and Cathy.  Ed and the young priest both had roots in Roanoke, Virginia, and talked and laughed and had a raucous good time together. Even though the two of them were separated by more than 50 years, it did not matter.  It was as if they had grown up together.  It was beautiful.  

Father heard their confessions, anointed both of them and gave them Holy Communion. He told them he would come back the first chance he could.  Sunday was Palm Sunday. It was the beginning of Holy Week, and he would be busy.  They all hugged and said good-bye. On Palm Sunday I had the honor of bringing them Holy Communion.

Easter Sunday I was again privileged to bring Ed and Cathy Holy Communion. In so doing, an unexpected  sight was forever etched in my mind.  They were lying next to each other in bed, holding hands.  Ed smiled and said, “Larry, we are SO happy. This is the greatest Easter we ever had.” 

He turned and looked at his wife who was smiling lovingly at him. She reached over and wiped his wet, happy eyes. They kept looking into each other’s eyes, and I thought they were maybe looking into each other’s souls. It was a moment that was filled with a shared spirituality I had never seen before. I could actually feel it. I have no doubt that at that moment Jesus was there with them holding their hands in His. 

As for me, I thank God for their friendship and for being a part of their final journey. Sometimes I like to think that I took two people in love to the airport and watched them get on a plane for a a true flight to paradise.

                                  ©Larry Peterson 2014 All Right Reserved   

this is a newer version of an article from May of 2014

February 11, 2018

Servant of God: Anna Louise Lateau--her only Nourishment for 12 years was the Holy Eucharist


Anna Louise Lateau
By Larry Peterson

On January 13, 1850, a baby girl was born to Adele Pissens Lateau and her husband Gregory. They named the child Anna Louise. Three months after Louise was born her dad passed away from smallpox. A healthy, powerful, 29-year-old metal worker, Gregory’s body was no match for the smallpox demon that ravaged him. His family was left in a terrible spot.

Adele had almost died giving birth to Louise and was still, for the most part, bedridden. The oldest child, Rosina, who was only three-years-old, actually tried her best to take care of her mom and two sisters. It was an unbelievably heroic attempt on the part of this small child. Her sister, Adelina, was only two and Louise, just three months old.  To make matters worse than they already were, Louise also contracted smallpox. Neighbors, fearing the dreaded disease, avoided the Lateau household and the family was virtually abandoned. How frightened Adele and her babies must have been.

A local doctor had been monitoring the Lateau family and told a local workman, Francis Delalieu, about the family. He asked him if he could check in on them. A week later, Francis, entered the home to check on the occupants. What he found horrified him. The one child was wrapped in dried out, smelly bandages, all the children were filthy and the mom was lying in bed in a state of despair. Francis, a kind, and decent man, immediately took charge of the house.

Francis immediately went and acquired food and the necessary provisions to care for the family. He treated baby Louise with extra loving care and, in effect, became “parental”. He cared for the family for the next two and a half years during which time Adele regained her full strength and the children were healthy. That entire transformation in itself was miraculous.

When Louise was eleven-years-old her mom allowed her to become a housemaid. Soon after she was trained as a dressmaker. When Louise was sixteen-years-old a cholera epidemic struck Bois-D’Haine. Louise began caring for six of the victims and even assisted in burying the dead. She had no fear of catching the disease. That was not to be as she also came down with the illness. Louise remained seriously ill into 1868 and on April 15th of that year, she received last-rites. It was ten days after this that the stigmata began to appear.

Louise noticed blood was dripping from her side. As was her personality, she said nothing. The following Friday the blood appeared again but this time it was also coming from the tops of her feet. On Friday, May 8, the bleeding began to come from the front and back of both hands and on Friday, September 25, the crown of bleeding spots appeared on her forehead.

She confided to her parish priest about it and, although quite stunned, he downplayed the entire phenomena. He asked her to not say anything about it. However, the experience for Louise continued every Thursday night until Friday evening for the rest of her life. Louise continued to work hard for the family as long as she could.

In 1871, Louise ceased to eat, drink and sleep. He only food was the Holy Eucharist which she received from attending daily Mass. The Bishop of Tournai, Joseph Labis, opened an investigation into Louise’s inexplicable spiritual journey. Quickly word spread even traveling abroad. Crowds began to gather around the little house on a daily basis. That was the way it would be from then on.

Louise Lateau told her pastor of her visions which consisted of the Pasion of Christ, the Virgin Mary and even some of the saints. She would go into ecstasy and remain that way for hours, oblivious to everything going on around her. She would seemingly remain painless as the phenomena continued and would have no recollection of the events that had happened while she was in ecstasy.

Renowned scientists and doctors were called in to examine and evaluate the young woman. None could find a rational explanation for her condition. Some of the atheistic and secular-minded scientists and doctors insisted what people were witnessing was nothing more than hysteria, blood anomalies or madness.

Anna Louise Lateau passed away on August 25, 1883. She was 33-years-old.  Her burial place became a place of pilgrimage and over the years there has been evidence of miracles happening through Anna Louise’s intercession.

This negative input into Louise’s narrative was effective at putting her cause for canonization on hold for over a century. The cause for sainthood must always be meticulously evaluated. She was declared a Servant of God but her cause for canonization was not opened in Rome until 1991. To date, the investigation has not moved forward.

Servant of God; Anna Louise Lateau, please pray for us.

                                      copyright©Larry Peterson 2018 All Rights Reserved

January 29, 2018

The Betrothal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Joseph is tied to the Protection of the Unborn Children, Marriage and Family


 The Holy Family  

By Larry Peterson

January 22, is the day the Catholic Church in America sets aside all else and joins in prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.  Traditionally, in the pre-1955 Church calendar, this day was set aside to honor the “Betrothal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Joseph”. Today, this Mass is still celebrated by some religious orders using the Latin rite.

This is such a beautiful thing for the Church to do. By simultaneously, joining together the Day of Prayer for the Unborn with Roe vs. Wade and the Betrothal of Our Lady, it heralds the beauty of Motherhood, and it trumpets the profound, spiritual importance of marriage and family.

From the Gospel of Matthew 1: 18; “When Mary was engaged to Joseph, before their marriage, she was discovered to be pregnant---by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.”

From Matthew 1: 23: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel.”

In the old testament, Jewish marriages happened in stages. First came the betrothal. At this ceremony, the couple gave their consent. They were now considered truly married. However, before they would actually move in together as a husband and wife, there was a period of time where they spent time away from each other. This could be up to a year, and it was during this separation that the “newlyweds.” were to learn from older married couples how to be good, Jewish spouses.

In his1989 Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, Pope St. John Pual II, used the following words to describe the marriage ceremony of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph: According to Jewish custom, marriage took place in two stages: first, the legal, or true marriage was celebrated, and then, only after a certain period of time, the husband brought the wife into his house. Thus, before he lived with Mary, Joseph was already her husband.”

When God does things, He sure is meticulous. Mary and Joseph were, according to the law, married. There are those who say that Jesus was born out of wedlock. If the betrothal had not taken place, that might be accurate. But under the law, they were married. There are some would have you believe that Mary was no different than an unwed mother. This is false. 

The Blessed Mother was a married woman at the time of the Annunciation. She even asked the Angel Gabriel, “How can this be since I know not man?” And she is told it will be by the Holy Spirit. The Angel also informs Joseph. Therefore, within the Holy Family,  the sanctity of marriage and family is fully protected.

Since Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs.Bolton on January 22, 1973, more than 60,000,000 lives have been eradicated. The number is incomprehensible. Yet there are so many who justify this by using the rare examples of teenage rape or incest, out of wedlock pregnancies, Downs Syndrome, deformities, lack of finances, etc. We could also say the Blessed Virgin Mary's pregnancy was abnormal or irregular. Afterall, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ total DNA comes from a woman. Biologically, Jesus is not the son of Joseph, the Nazarene carpenter. But this man define’s fatherhood, and his example screams out to all men;  Love and protect the child and his/her mom, no matter what. Be loyal and true.Give them your name if you must.

Fittingly, on the 45th Anniversary of the two most ignominious Supreme Court decisions ever handed down, as we pray for the protection of the unborn, we can look to the marriage of Joseph and Mary, a marriage established by God and made perfect by His Son.

Lastly, it is hard to even imagine a better husband or father than a simple carpenter named Joseph. He is an example for all mankind.

We ask the Most Holy Family to pray for all the unborn and children everywhere.

                                              copyright©Larry Peterson 2018

January 22, 2018

During Respect Life Week, St. Gerard Majella: the patron of unborn children and expectant mothers, will be very busy.

St. Gerard Majella      Nashastudiya | CC BY SA 4.0


By Larry Peterson

*This article appeared in Aleteia 1/21/2018

The Annual March for Life will take place in Washington. D.C. on Friday, January 19. Tens upon tens of thousands will march in defense of the unborn. Many expectant women, unsure of their situation, will not.   If you are one of them you might turn to St. Gerard Majella, the Patron Saint of Unborn Children and Expectant Mothers. Many a miracle has been attributed to this young man’s intercession.

Gerard was the youngest child born to Domenico and Benedetta Majella. They already had three daughters and Gerard was their only son. The date was April 6, 1726. The Majellas were a hard-working Italian family and, Benedetta, brought her children to Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces as often as she could. Gerard, only three, loved the statue of the “pretty lady with the baby.”

When Gerard got a bit older, he would run off to the shrine by himself. The first time he came home he yelled out, “Mama, mama, see what I got from the little boy.” In his hand, he held a small roll of bread. No one paid much attention but after several days of coming home with bread, his mom decided to follow him and see what he was up to.

What she saw stunned her because the statue of Our Lady of Graces apparently came to life and the Child she was holding scampered down to play with Gerard. She quickly left and , sure enough, when Gerard came home he had another small loaf of bread with him. Benedetta kept this to herself.

Gerard’s dad died when the boy was twelve, and the family was left in poverty. Gerard’s father had been a tailor so his mom sent him to her brother so Gerard could learn to sew and be a tailor like his father. However, after a four-year apprenticeship, Gerard was offered the job as a servant for the local Bishop of Lacedonia. Needing the money, he took the position.

The Bishop kept hearing stories about Gerard and his kindness, and how he would always stop and visit the poor in the clinic, how he always helped others and would even bring the poor leftovers from the bishop’s table. The young man was gaining a reputation just by being himself.

When the Bishop passed away, Gerard returned to his trade as a tailor. He divided his earnings among his mother, the poor and in offerings for the souls in purgatory. By the time he was 21 years-old, he had established a steady business. His mom was quite worried about her son. He looked thin and frail because he was always fasting and doing penance. She begged him to eat, and he told her, “Mama, God will provide. As for me, I want to be a saint.”

Gerard tried to join the Capuchins, but they thought him to sickly to endure the demands of the order. Finally, after much pleading and nagging, he was accepted as a lay brother into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer aka the Redemptorists.

As a lay brother he would never be a priest, say Mass or hear confessions. He would live under the same roof and wear the same habit and share the prayers. He also would take the vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. He would be a caretaker to the monastery. He embraced this role and served them well acting as gardener, sacristan, porter, cook, carpenter and, of course, the tailor.

But there was always the children. They flocked to Gerard to hear his amazing stories and learn how to pray. Once, when a large group was sitting around listening to him, a little boy fell off a cliff. When they reached the child, they thought he was dead. Gerard said to the boy's father, “It is nothing.”  Then he traced a cross on the boy's forehead, and he awoke. It was just one of Gerard’s many miracles that were witnessed by people.

 Gerard had tuberculosis and died on October 16, 1755 . He was 29 years-old. Many miracles were attributed to his intercession. One stands out as the reason he has come to be known as the patron of mothers. A few months before his death he was visiting a family. He dropped his handkerchief, and one of the girls picked it up to return it to him. He told her to keep it for one day she would need it.

Years later, as a married woman, she was about to give birth and the doctor was sure the child would not survive. She remembered the handkerchief and asked for it. When she held it to her womb, the pain disappeared and she gave birth to a healthy baby. There was no explanation.

In 1893 Pope Leo XIII beatified Gerard. And on December 11, 1904, Pope St. Pius X canonized him in Rome. He was now St. Gerard Majella.

St. Gerard;  please pray for all those pre-born children in danger of losing their lives and for all expectant moms everywhere.

                                      copyright©Larry Peterson 2018

December 29, 2017

Greeting the New Year---the Catholic Way*


HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018   courtesy

By Larry Peterson

According to Georgetown University , as of October 2017, there are 1.28 billion Catholics in the world. 70.4 million of them are in the United States. The USA has a population of approximately 330,000,000 people. That works out to about 22% of the American population being Catholic.

From the Pope down to the vagrant, each of us is an individual creation made by God. We are all unique. Incredibly, we will all be judged individually. And, as Catholics, we will be held to a higher standard. After all, we proclaim to be part of the Mystical Body of Christ which is filled with the deposit of faith. No matter how we lived our lives, the common denominator for all of us will be; How much we loved each other and our neighbor.

Based on that, here are some points to consider if we focus on, before all else, pleasing God in the New Year, the Catholic Way:
ü  Never forget that you are God’s individual creation and therefore a gift He has bestowed on the world. Be humbled by the fact that He does have you in the palm of His hand. Without Him you are nothing.
ü  Be happy with who and what you are. God made you and loves you. If you feel you need to change to please Him, you can do it. Just ask for His help.
ü  The choices you make are your responsibility. Sometimes our choices hurt us. Embrace them and learn from them and move on. Thank God for the experience.
ü  Sometimes NOT getting what you want or what you think you need is a blessing. If you trust God, you will thank Him. When “one door closes another opens.”
ü  Always count your blessings---not your troubles.
ü  Always do your best. The “best” is all God expects from each of us.
ü  You can make it through whatever comes along.
ü  Prayer is the most powerful of weapons and can be your greatest ally in all diversity.
ü  Don’t take things too seriously---especially yourself.
ü  The key to happiness is to give of yourself, not to “get’ for yourself.
ü  Miracles happen; you are one---I am one—we all are one.
ü  Temptation is everywhere. It is okay to say “NO.”
ü  Finally, never fail to help a neighbor, whoever it may be---even a stranger.

We all will experience “highs and lows” during the coming year. As Catholics, we have the armor of the church to shield us and the angels and saints to help us fight our battles with the evil one.
St. Michael the Archangel will always ‘defend us in battle”. St. Anthony will help us find lost items. St. Jude will help us through seemingly impossible barricades. Good St. Joseph is ready to help all men be good fathers and husbands. St. Monica will help moms and St. Dymphna will help those with experiencing emotional difficulties or suffering from Alzheimer's disease. And, of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary is always there for all of us.

Virtually every day of the calendar year honors a particular saint, and that saint has been assigned a special task; such as St. Padre Pio who is the patron of adolescents and volunteers or St. Maximilian Kolbe, martyred in the Holocaust, who is the patron of drug addicts. Help is always available when you are Catholic.

Lastly, we have in place for our salvation the most beautiful thing this side of heaven; the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We can actually be at the foot of the Cross and then witness the resurrection. It is there for all of us every day if we so CHOOSE. Then there are the sacraments, always available to build us up and restore us to where we should be.

Yes—being Catholic is very cool. We even have the Rosary.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2018 --“No Fear”

                                       copyright©Larry Peterson 2017

This article also appeared in Aleteia on December 29,2017